Monday, 21 January 2013

Behind the Scenes

Part of the reason for the hiatus is that my sewing machine broke. I managed to borrow a machine here and there from some lovely people, and have been sewing like mad to get caught up. I'm still not, but I'm feeling more optimistic than I was previously.

The other reason was that the snow meant poor lighting conditions for taking photographs, and a freezing cold sewing room. Neither of which are conducive to sewing and blogging.

However, I just though I should share my precautions against the cold.

For a start, the bottom half from my recent post about chemises:


Two layers. PJs and Dino-onesie. And for you, a long shot.

Sewing Outfit

Sewing Dino.

Jim, Joe and Me: A simple chemise (with a little lace)

The brief: A simple chemise, with some nice lacy sleeve detail. Flounce!

The build: A very simple concept, based on four rectangles, with tracks for either ribbon or elastic, dependant on preference.

The fabric: Cream cotton from Birmingham Rag Market, plus some vintage lace from a friend.

Cost and time: £6 per chemise, plus a few hours sewing.

Process: We start with two rectangles for the body, long enough to go to mid-thigh, and wide enough together to go round the body 1 1/2 to 2 times. Plus two rectangles for the sleeves, wide enough to allow for an armscye, plus half again as long as the arm.

The arm pieces need a channel sewing for elastic, and the lace also sewn on.

Lace Blouse Sleeve

Lace Blouse Sleeve With Lace

The lace is rather nice, if a bit over the top.

Lace Blouse Detail

These arms are then attached to the two body pieces, with no (apparent) space left in the middle.

Lace Blouse Layout

Lace Blouse Pinned

A channel is sewn at the top of the body pieces to allow for ribbon to tighten the neck. The sides are sewn up using French seams, and the bottom is hemmed.

And here it is on.

Lace Blouse Worn 2

Helen: Everyday Doublet

The brief: A sturdy everyday doublet for warmth and for when I can't be bothered to frock up. Also because I already have a doublet mostly made and I want to have a go at fixing it.

The build: Using an old doublet I made many years ago, before I learned about pre-shrinking material. Thus the lining is a slightly different size to the shell, and the whole thing is a little too tight across the shoulders. The plan is to completely detach the sleeves, lengthen them with the pale gold lining (creating fake ribbon joins to the shoulders), and add a slash in each arm to show more pale gold. Then decorate with more ribbon and gold roses, plus ideally sort out the wrinkle issue on the lower edge, and possibly re-scoop the neckline even lower.

The fabric: Burgundy silk dupioni from Edinburgh, plus heavy red cotton lining, woven curtain offcuts for the arms. Adding to this some sale ribbon and tiny gold roses from the Indoor Market, plus some pale gold lining given by a friend.

Cost and time: Almost everything in this project was either offcuts from a paid project (back when I ran Lyonesse Clothing), or on sale. I'd have to estimate the cost, but I think it comes in at about £10 tops. Time is the big factor here, as always.


First off I ripped the arm seams, taking the arms out of the body. The body was then set aside to work on the arms.

Too Tight Doublet

The first step was to take a strip of the pale gold lining and gather it around strips of ribbon decorated with gold roses. This was to give the impression of the sleeves being joined to the body by the ribbons, with a shirt peeking out from beneath.

Helen's Doublet Inset

I cut two slashes in the arm of the doublet, and then filled it with an inset of the pale gold satin and decorated it with a gold rose.

Helen's Doublet Sleeve Slash

Helen's Doublet Sleeve Detail

I sewed the gold lining strip to the sleeve and then sewed this into the armhole of the doublet. This gave me the lengthened arms I was hoping for, and made the tightness in the back disappear.

To make this slightly more 'Leaguey' and neater, I also lowered the neckline by an inch, added a ribbon trim to the bottom to hide some old sewing, and added another button and buttonhole at the bottom, to pull everything in.

Helen's Doublet Neckline

Helen's Doublet Buttonholes

And the final result: a warm doublet, with enough frill and flounce to be suitable for the League, while also comfortable and easy to move in.

Helen's Doublet 1

Helen's Doublet Back

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Slow Going and Socks

It has been slow going round here. I'm back to teaching, which leaves me tired a lot, and back at the gym, which makes me more tired.

Also the ginger cat has decided it is absolutely necessary for her to be constantly petted and reassured.


And my sewing machine is doing something upsetting, which keeps snapping the top thread after 2 cm of sewing.

So I've only been getting anything crafty done at lunchtimes at school.

Summer Fruits Socks4

A simple toe-up sock, trying out a heel flap technique. Otherwise simple rib, and simple yarn, dyed by me with Kool Aid. Grape and Strawberry specifically.

Little things. Little steps. Today I will give the ginger cat a kiss and her toy mosue and try to get something bigger accomplished.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Jim: Everyday Jerkin/Doublet Part 2

Following on from this part, I am now at the stage of adding the arms (and altering that annoying doublet tab which hangs slightly too low).

I wanted to have very slim fitting lower arms, with a slightly puffier look at the top. To achieve this I sewed together strips of sleeve material, and a 'feature' material to fill the gaps. I'm using the back of this, as it's a slightly creamy fabric, with white fleur de lys.

Checked BurgundyFleur de Lys Peach

I French seamed them and then sewed the seams onto the main sleeve strips, to keep it flat inside, but also to enhance the look of the 'feature' fabric being behind the sleeve fabric. At the top I created a facing and sewed it in place, along with the other half of the ribbon ties to attach it to the doublet.

Doublet Mod Upper Sleeve2
Doublet Mod Upper Sleeve1

Doublet Mod3

I then needed a lower arm piece, which I decided to make out of one piece of material. As it needed to be quite tight fitting I started with a shape that was 12" circumference and tapered down to the wrist at 10". I added ribbon decoration here to tie it in with the main doublet body.

Doublet Mod Lower Arm

Doublet Mod Full SleeveBecause the upper arm tube wouldn't naturally fit in the lower arm tube, I pleated the 'feature' fabric so it was behind the sleeve fabric until it was the right circumference. This went between the two folded layers of the lower arm and was sewn inside to keep everything neat.

Doublet Mod Arm Join

Altering the doublet tab was quick and easy, and only involved unpicking half the waist to get right. I'm much happier with the levels now though. I also added the leftover ribbon to the back to create a pulled in pleat in order to fit it more tightly to Jim's body, as the waistcoat was originally quite loose.

Doublet Mod Back Ties TiedDoublet Mod Backs Ties Open

And there we have it. One finished doublet, modded from a waistcoat. Minimal amount of money spent, but quite a lot of time. Jim's currently wearing it with one of my blouses (see through for extra League sexiness), plus some plain black work trousers and knee high boots.

Doublet Mod Complete

Doublet Mod Shoulder1

Doublet Mod Long ShotDoublet Mod Back

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Jim: Everyday Jerkin/Doublet Part 1

The brief: A warm jacket style top based on an old piece I started years ago. Mostly to practice my altering skills and allow Jim to allow himself more kit, without worrying over cost and effort.

The build: This used to be a velvet waistcoat, lined in sheeting. It will be altered at the shoulders for a better fit and cut up to a high waist. The offcuts will either be used to add some tabs, or to create sleeves. There is some similar enough/different enough material that will be used as the sleeves if necessary. A selection of light gold lining has been chosen for slashes in the sleeves.

Velvet Waistcoat
The fabric: Red (curtain) velvet waistcoat from about 5 years ago, lined in red sheeting and with some bargain bin trim. Additional fabric are all offcuts from curtain shop closing down sale, plus some sale ribbon from the Indoor Market.

Cost and time: Cost is very rough, as some of this material was bought over 10 years ago, but my best guess is somewhere between £6-8. Currently sitting at four hours, having finished the body.

Process:  Our starting point.

Overly long for the period we're playing, doesn't do up at the front, doesn't sit right on the shoulders and has never actually been sewn shut at the armhole. Oh dear.

The first thing to do was to re-pin the shoulders on Jim, so that I knew we had a good fit. They were quite far out from where they should be.

Doublet Mod Shoulder Alteration

I then checked Jim's natural waist level onto the waistcoat and cut it straight off. After that I un-seamed the bottom pieces, giving me two lower front quarters, and the back half. I chopped the back half straight up the middle, turned all the pieces inside out, and then seamed them up to create four doublet tabs.

Doublet Mod Tab

As Jim wanted detachable sleeves, it was easiest to pull the shoulder seams apart at this point, and sew the armholes closed first, including ribbon ties into the sewing. After this I sewed the outer shell at the shoulder on the machine, then pinned the lining together to hand sew.

Doublet Mod Armscye1Doublet Mod Armscye2

Doublet Mod Front Ties Spacing

Doublet Mod FrontI also needed to add front ties to pull the doublet closed at the waist, although only a few. To save myself having to reopen the front I added them on top and covered then with some ribbon, which also added a bit more flounce. In retrospect I should have just reopened the front. While I sewed the trim on neatly many years ago, it turns out I didn't sew it the same distance away from the edge on both sides.

After this it was a simple enough job to pin the tabs to the outer shell, machine sew it, and then hand stitch the lining in place.

Annoyingly, somewhere along the way, one of the front tabs has hung down more than the other. I'll fix that tomorrow, and other than that, everything is very nice indeed.

Empire: Costuming the League

Over a year ago PD announced that they would be ending their then current campaign, Maelstrom, and starting a new campaign in 2013. This campaign is Empire and I am massively excited about it.

A group of us started planning what we would sort of game we would like to play within Empire, and where this would best fit in the setting. The nation that captured our imaginations the most was the League. This is a nation of colour and intrigue, or fighting bravos and underhand politics. Perfect for us and our play style.

Also, it really helped that the costuming for the League was so bloody beautiful!

And of course I became extremely excited about making these costume. Possibly more so than was seemly.

Currently I am making costumes for myself and two others; Joe and Jim.

Jim is intending to play a Ritual Mage and wants some very flash clothing for rituals, as well as everyday clothing.

Joe will be playing a politician, aiming for Senator, so wants constantly noticeable clothing to make him stand out from the crowd.

I haven't yet decided what I'll play, there are far too many things catching my eye. However I will be aiming for some sumptuous gowns, as well as some more practical doublet and hose combinations.

My intention is to record my progress here in order to have a record for other people looking to make their own clothing, just like Tim and Jess are doing here.

Matching chemises

Everyday Doublet for Helen

Everyday Doublet for Jim (Part 1)

Everyday Doublet for Jim (Part 2)